Title:
KEY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A novel system for keeping and managing a plurality of keys. The system uses individual “key cells” of clear plastic to hold individual keys. Rows and columns of cells are aligned and held in place on a back panel. The system can be hung on a wall, and multiple systems can be carried in a binder or box.



Inventors:
Kenney, George (Danville, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/748430
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
05/14/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G29/10
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Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
PICKETT, JOHN G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WEST & ASSOCIATES, A PC (3050 Citrus Circle Suite 207, WALNUT CREEK, CA, 94598, US)
Claims:
What I claim is:

1. A system for managing keys, comprising: at least one key cell, said key cell comprising a flat piece of material, a tray for holding at least one key situated on one side of the material, hook and loop fastener material surrounding the tray; a back panel, said back panel being substantially flat and covered with hook and loop fastener material on one side; wherein said key cell can be removably attached to the back panel by mating the hook and loop fastener material on the key cell and the back panel, said tray becoming enclosed to hold a key securely when said key cell is attached to the back panel.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the flat piece of material is made of a material selected from the group consisting of plastic, thermoplastic, rubber, polymer, cardboard and glass.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the flat piece of material is transparent.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the flat piece of material is translucent.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein said back panel is semi-rigid.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein said back panel further comprises binder holes adjacent to one edge, said back panel being capable of being carried in a binder.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein said key cell further comprises a writing area for recording information.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the back panel is of a size that can accept a plurality of key cells attached to it.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein the back panel further comprises a slide-on rod so that the panel may be used like a hanging file.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the back panel further comprises a carrying handle.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein the key cell is in the shape of a square.

12. The system of claim 1, wherein the key cell is in the shape of a rectangle.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

1. Background

The current disclosure relates to key storage and management tools for a plurality of keys.

2. Background

Keys and locks are ubiquitous in our daily lives. They help safeguard our persons and our property from people who would seek to compromise our safety, privacy and control. However, there are many situations where it is desired to grant another person temporary access to our properties while maintaining control over who gets access. One common example is that tenants in residences that are managed by a landlord or a home owner's association may grant a license for the management to enter the premises while the resident is away for limited purposes. These purposes typically include the performance of maintenance work, delivery of packages, or investigation of complaints. Spare keys or a master key that opens a set of locks are usually used to gain access to the property, and access to such keys must be strictly controlled or security can be compromised. Limiting access to such keys, ensuring the keys are returned after use, and keeping records of who used the keys are important to maintain security.

For example, a management office may keep control of keys to a number of premises it manages. The office may wish to grant access to people working in the office, or to third-party contactors or sub-contractors to perform work at the premise. It is not desirable to keep multiple copies of keys because that can easily compromise security.

While there are many hi-tech devices such as security keypads, card readers, or even bio-metric scanners that may be used to grant temporary access to a premise, a solution is desired where it is possible to maintain a level of control without the need of installing expensive hardware.

For persons or offices (such as a management office or a building super) that have to maintain and keep secure a plurality of keys, a system is desired where it can easily keep track of who has checked out a particular key and when it was checked out. Therefore, a system is desired with which it is possible to manage a plurality of keys in a convenient, portable and versatile manner.

Unlike conventional key chains, the system should allow easy access to any key within seconds, without the need to fumble through detaching and re-attaching keys to the keychain.

The system should be displayable to allow easy at-a-glance view of which keys are checked out or missing, yet also be portable when it is not known ahead of time which keys will be needed.

SUMMARY

A novel system for keeping and managing a plurality of keys. The system uses individual “key cells” of clear plastic to hold individual keys. Rows and columns of cells are aligned and held in place on a back panel. The system can be hung on a wall, and multiple systems can be carried in a binder. The system is particularly suited to being filed in a file drawer or filing cabinet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a front view of a key cell.

FIG. 2 depicts a front view of a back panel holding a number of key cells.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 depicts a front planar view of one “key cell” according to one embodiment of the key storage and management system. In this embodiment, each individual key cell 100 comprises a primarily flat piece of material 101. In the embodiment shown, the piece of material has a roughly square or rectangular shape. This allows for the easy arrangement of holder cells in rows and columns on a back panel (see FIG. 2). In further embodiments of the system, the key cell 100 can be in any shape, as long as it has a surface area sufficiently large to cover the surface area of a typical key.

Along all four edges of the surface of the key cell 100 designated as the backwards-facing side, there is a strip of “hook and loop” fastener material 102 such as Velcro® brand fastener that surrounds the outer peripheral of the key cell. The hook and loop material 102 forms a tray 103 in the center region of the backwards-facing side of the key cell 100. Note that the tray 103 is not enclosed in the back (until it is attached to the back panel). The hook and loop material 102 used should be of a sufficient thickness so that the tray 103 formed is deep enough to hold a typical key 104. In further embodiments of the key cell, the tray 103 can be molded in the material 101 to give it additional depth for holding larger keys.

In preferred embodiments of the system, the flat piece of material 101 is a clear, semi-transparent or translucent plastic, so that the key 104 carried in the tray 103 can be viewed through the key cell 100 from the front. This allows quick, at-a-glance viewing of the contents of any key cell, and allows the user to instantly know if a key is missing from its key cell. A writing area 105 on the front side of the key cell 100 can be made available for noting which key belongs to a particular key cell. An erasable marker can be used to write in this area to record who signed out the key. In further embodiments of the system, a small self-adhesive sticker can be applied to the face of the cell to identify the key. An “out tag” can be inserted into the cell, in place of the key, when the key is loaned out.

Refer to FIG. 2 which depicts an embodiment of the back panel 200. The back panel is made of a flat piece of material. The material chosen can be rigid, soft, or semi-rigid, depending on where a particular back panel will be used. Rigid back panels are suitable if the panel is to be hung on a wall. Multiple soft or semi-rigid back panels can be carried in standard three-hold binders by using binder holes 202 on the side of the panel. Similarly, the panel may incorporate a slide-on rod so that the panel may be used like a Pendaflex-style hanging file folder in file cabinets and file drawers. The invention is particularly suited to being filed in a file drawer or filing cabinet to easily organize sets of keys. In further embodiments of the system, the back panel may incorporate a handle so it can be carried easily.

The front of the back panel 200 is covered in a layer of hook and loop material 201 matching that of the hook and loop material 102 on the backs of key cells 100. In embodiments of the system in which the back panel is soft or semi-rigid, the back panel can be made from the hook and loop material itself, such as using a sheet of Velcro® material. The back panel 200 should be of a size that multiple key cells 100 can be attached to the panel with the hook and loop material. In preferred embodiments of the system, the backing of the cell will likely be hook material while the surface of the panel will likely be loop material. The cell benefits from the rigidity of the hook material while the panel benefits from the cushioning and sound absorbing qualities of the loop material.

By attaching key cells 100 to the back panel, the tray 103 becomes enclosed and the keys are held securely inside each key cell. To remove a key, simply tear off the key cell 100 the key is in from the hook and loop material 201 of the back panel 200, and the key can then be removed from the tray. The empty key cell can then be re-attached to the back panel to indicate the key has been checked out and removed.

The system, comprising at least one back panel and at least one key cell, is most useful when used in conjunction with multiple key cells and even multiple back panels. For example, the super or manager of a multiple-dwelling building can easily manage access to the keys of the building using binders containing the systems.

By making the back panel a smaller size, it can be made integral with a wallet or purse, and can be used to carry keys safely inside the wallet or purse without the key dropping out. A smaller sized system can also be used to hide keys discretely in places for owners to access when they are locked out, such as beneath a vehicle, or hidden beneath a mat.

The system can be manufactured cheaply enough so that it is disposable after use. The “key cell” is not limited to carrying keys. Security cards or other items can also be easily managed and kept with the system.

Although the system has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the apparatus as described and hereinafter claimed is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims.





 
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